Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, August 7th, 2017

I want minimum information given with maximum politeness.

Jackie Kennedy

S North
Both ♠ 7 5 4
 K J 2
 7 6 4 3 2
♣ A 4
West East
♠ K Q 10 3
 9 6 5
 K 9
♣ Q 10 5 3
♠ J 8 2
 J 10 8 5
♣ K J 9 7 6
♠ A 9 6
 A Q 10 7 4 3
 A Q
♣ 8 2
South West North East
1 Pass 2 Pass
4 All pass    


In today’s deal you have nine top tricks in four hearts after a top spade lead. Where should you go to you find another – and would your strategy vary if you were playing pairs as opposed to teams?

It seems logical to try to develop the diamonds. So after taking your spade ace, you might be tempted to cross to a heart in dummy and finesse in diamonds. If that succeeds, you might ruff out the diamonds and come home with 12 tricks. At pairs that would be a perfectly reasonable line if you suspected the field would be playing four hearts.

At teams you can do better, by cashing the ace of trumps at trick two. Were hearts 4-0, you might revert to taking the diamond finesse. But when both hands follow to the first trump, cash the diamond ace and then continue with the queen. The defense will take their spade winners and shift to clubs. You can win in dummy, ruff a diamond high, then cross to dummy with a trump to ruff another diamond high, and play a trump to dummy. At this point all the opponents’ trumps have been drawn and you are in dummy to cash the long diamond for a club discard.

This plan is better than taking the diamond finesse, since it succeeds unless diamonds break 5-1 or worse – and that will happen less than one time in six. By contrast, using a trump entry to take the diamond finesse will fail almost a third of the time, when diamonds are 4-2 with the finesse failing.

Your partner clearly has a few values, but didn’t raise hearts, so it seems wrong to lead that suit. No lead seems passive, so it is really a question of what lead rates to gain most if you guess right. I’d settle for leading the diamond queen, but you could probably just about sell me on either black suit.


♠ A 6 5
 K J 6 3 2
 Q 7
♣ J 8 6
South West North East
    Pass 1 ♣
1 Dbl. Pass 2 ♠
All pass      

For details of Bobby Wolff’s autobiography, The Lone Wolff, contact If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, please leave a comment at this blog.
Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2017. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact